Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Sword of Kahless   Rewatch 
January 31, 2016 7:18 PM - Season 4, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Worf is contacted by a legendary hero to help him find a long-lost weapon that was the foundation of their Empire, and an enemy from Worf's past also joins the hunt... but the two Klingons and Dax discover who the real enemy is.

From Memory Alpha:

- This episode was written in an effort to more fully integrate the character of Worf into the Deep Space Nine world. All of the fourth season episodes to that date, with the exception of "The Way of the Warrior", had been green-lit prior to the confirmation of Michael Dorn's arrival, and as such, Worf tended to be confined to the B-stories of these episodes, if he even figured in them at all. "The Sword of Kahless" was the first show put together after Worf joined the cast, and as such, the producers felt it should focus on him.

- This episode is probably the closest to the Indiana Jones series that the Star Trek franchise will ever get, with the search for the Sword of Kahless being similar to that of the search for the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indeed, of this episode, director LeVar Burton says, "it's the search for the Holy Grail and it's about how the importance placed on the end of the quest, or on the object, affects who we are. The truth is that life is not about the destination, it's about the journey."

- This episode was somewhat unpopular with some viewers when it first aired, something which disappointed writer Hans Beimler and producer René Echevarria. What particularly disappointed them was the fact that many viewers were unable to accept the notion that the bat'leth itself had no actual power. According to Echevarria, "A lot of fan reaction was that there must be a tech explanation, that the sword must be emitting something. I was astonished." Beimler explains Echevarria's astonishment when he says, "the sword itself doesn't have any magic. It's the concept of the sword that has the power. We wanted to explore the notion that there were some dark streaks to be revealed within these characters. The minute anyone starts talking about the sword it starts infecting them, so Worf gets caught up from the very beginning." Both men were disappointed that many fans missed this point, instead assuming that the Sword of Kahless had some mysterious power that simply wasn't revealed in the episode.

- John Colicos greatly enjoyed the episode, commenting: "I absolutely loved it. I thought this was a marvelous kind of tour de force, and I loved all the baiting with Worf – the fight that we had together – all of that was really quite fun to play. I enjoyed that tremendously. Hans Beimler wrote it specifically for me, and he gave me glorious opportunities – in fact he put the word 'glorious' in, too, which seems to have gone down in Klingon history".

"Are you sure of this, Worf?"
"Yes. Yes, it is the only way."
"Do we have the right? This Sword belongs to all Klingons."
"But are we ready for it? This Sword turned you and me against each other. Imagine how it would divide the Empire."
"Just let me hold it one last time..."
"The Sword is not meant for us. It was never our destiny to find it."
"You're wrong. It was our destiny to find it. It just wasn't our destiny... to keep it."

--Kor and Worf
posted by Halloween Jack (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Count me among those who never really dug this episode. Not because of the lack of a tech explanation. But this feels like less than the sum of its parts. Dax, Worf, and Kor on a quest sounds like an amazing premise. And I usually love Klingons too. This just never paid off for me.

I actually find Kor to be insufferably annoying in this episode. (Even though I realize they played him a bit like an old windbag. But between him and the appearance of Toral, I just wanted it to be over.
posted by dry white toast at 8:50 PM on January 31, 2016

I really liked this one, but I definitely see it as Treasure of the Sierra Madre more than Indiana Jones. It's not really a thrilling adventure story, it's about greed twisting people up. Once they get a deep sniff of power and glory, all their ideals about honor go right out the airlock.

I wonder if some of the negative fan reaction was pushback from Next Generation fans who just weren't comfortable with Worf going this dark. TNG could go dark, but only so dark. In a TNG plot, it's more likely there would have been some sort of bad mojo coming from that sword, making them go nuts. But DS9 showed us that for all his ideals and heroism, even Worf could get really nasty when faced with enough temptation. The one part that rings a little false is Worf deciding he should be the one to lead the Klingons. Worf usually rejected the spotlight, he was as close as a Klingon gets to being an introvert. But I suppose life in exile might do things to the guy's head, and if he believes the fates have CHOSEN him to lead maybe he's ready to embrace that.

Kor always walked a fine line between endearing and insufferable, and I think that was kind of the point. He was a Falstaffian figure, a brawling, boasting TOS Klingon who lived long enough to become embarrassing to guys like Worf. But it was always a little weird when they'd reminisce about the Klingon stuff from TOS, partly because you couldn't help but think about how these guys didn't have the bumpy foreheads then but also because the old school Klingons were such bastards. TOS Kor was a pretty straightforward villain, honor seemed like the last thing he'd worry about!

(And yeah, I know Enterprise came up with an explanation for the whole forehead thing. It worked about as well as most things on Enterprise: Fine, I guess?)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:31 AM on February 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

About the only Kor episode I could ever get jazzed about is the one where he dies. I love the *concepts* behind this and the Albino one, but the execution, meh.

Still, big-picture-wise, I'm glad they were made. They flesh out Klingon culture in a way that no other Trek really did (except for the TNG Qo'NoS episodes, to an extent).
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:41 AM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I always WANTED to like this one more than I did.

I like the idea that Worf is always on the edge between total skeptic and radical belief, partly due to his diaspora. A lot of episodes play with this idea, but this one never quite worked for me. Also you really feel the limits of budget and scope when doing stories like this. India Jones... but 48 mins, and one 1/90th the budget and 1/30th filming time.
posted by French Fry at 9:42 AM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, sometimes the show wants to do something really grand but really runs into the limits of their soundstages. (There's a future episode partly set in the "Hall of Warriors"--which may or may not be the Hall of Heroes that Kor mentions in this episode--which in size is somewhere between a small-town VFW hall and a small-town high school gym; this, for an interstellar empire's major awards ceremony.) But I completely get and believe the core of the episode, which is that, if you find Excalibur--even if you don't have to draw it out of the stone--you may just think to yourself, hey, maybe you can expect to wield supreme power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you! (So to speak.) Kor and Worf are very different people, but they've both been kind of kicked in the ass by relatively recent events--Kor by the deaths of Kang and Koloth, and Worf by the dissolution of the Khitomer Accords (which his grandfather had some role in creating) and subsequent discommendation, and there's that it's such a crazy idea that it's gotta work fantasy that crops up. In fact--apologies in advance for letting current events into a Trek thread--it explains some of the presidential candidates in this primary season, TBH.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:05 AM on February 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed this episode. Worf's one of my favorite characters, and I like when he gets to stretch his legs a bit. And it's one of the better ones (so far) where Jadzia is showing her Klingonesque qualities; it's more believable than in some earlier episodes.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:44 AM on January 25

Well, season 4 has been on a total winning streak, but we had to have a clunker of an episode eventually. The story here was just leaden. Yeah, I couldn't wait for it to be over. Wandering around a Star Trek cave has never been so underwhelming. Dax having to play mom to Worf & Kor was not great watching, and I really did not like this revelation about Worf's mystical vision that he was destined for greatness. I think we've already seen him do a hundred things that "no Klingon has ever done," and just a few weeks ago he saw him take a lonely stand that would seem to have saved all Klingons from being enslaved by the Dominion.

"the sword itself doesn't have any magic. It's the concept of the sword that has the power."

I didn't think it was magic either, but in a way that's too bad because something had to explain why Kor, Worf, and Toral are all so convinced that it would turn the history of the empire. Like, it would give Kahless 2.0 more legitimacy that he wasn't already getting by being the honest-to-god clone of the original Kahless? If you say so...I guess.

So...Kor was ambassador to Vulcan. Who was Gowron trying to punish more with that assignment, Kor or Vulcan?

TGG made the point that if Worf and Kor have come to their senses at the end of the ep, why didn't they go back to plan A and give the sword to the emperor? Did they come around to my opinion that it was a crackpot idea to begin with?
posted by polecat at 5:39 PM on February 7

Oh, and at the end of the last episode we saw Quark finally getting hauled off to jail for his crimes. At the beginning of this ep, I guess he's out on bail, awaiting trial? Looking forward to seeing how that goes!
posted by polecat at 5:50 PM on February 7

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